A Manned Mission to the Stars

A Few Things we Need to Do.

Currently we are discovering all kinds of exosolar planets. Some of them are near the size of the earth and a few are in the habital zone of their star.
Currently we are discovering all kinds of exosolar planets. Some of them are near the size of the earth and a few are in the habital zone of their star. | Source
The Kepler telescope has found many exosolar planets and is currently searching for earth like candidates out to about 3,000 light years along the Orion arm of the milky way.
The Kepler telescope has found many exosolar planets and is currently searching for earth like candidates out to about 3,000 light years along the Orion arm of the milky way. | Source
Two proves launched in 1977 to photograph the planets from Jupiter to Neptune are still working and are not about to enter the interstellar medium. It will take them thousands of years to reach the nearest star.
Two proves launched in 1977 to photograph the planets from Jupiter to Neptune are still working and are not about to enter the interstellar medium. It will take them thousands of years to reach the nearest star. | Source
We already have a working space platform to begin missions to the rest of the solar system. At some point, NASA may elect to boost the station into a higher orbit or even to one of the Lagrange points in the moon's orbit, or build more space colonies
We already have a working space platform to begin missions to the rest of the solar system. At some point, NASA may elect to boost the station into a higher orbit or even to one of the Lagrange points in the moon's orbit, or build more space colonies | Source
Humanity has already made tentative steps to the near earth asteroids and a visit to a comet. A probe sent to Eros shown above was also soft landed on the asteroid.
Humanity has already made tentative steps to the near earth asteroids and a visit to a comet. A probe sent to Eros shown above was also soft landed on the asteroid. | Source
There are gravitational points of stability between bodies in orbit around one another called Lagrange points. Large structures can be built there such as zero gravity space colonies and interstellar ships.
There are gravitational points of stability between bodies in orbit around one another called Lagrange points. Large structures can be built there such as zero gravity space colonies and interstellar ships. | Source
Until recently, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was an ongoing search for intelligence deep in space. With the findings of the Kepler telescope, more tantalizing hints have arisen.
Until recently, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was an ongoing search for intelligence deep in space. With the findings of the Kepler telescope, more tantalizing hints have arisen. | Source
The fairly recently launched Kepler telescope has found many new planets around stars. Some of them are close to earth's size and a few in habital zones
The fairly recently launched Kepler telescope has found many new planets around stars. Some of them are close to earth's size and a few in habital zones | Source
At some point, a magnetic launch system will be built to launch space vehicles and raw materials into either earth orbit or off the moon toward one of the Lagrange points in the moon's orbit.
At some point, a magnetic launch system will be built to launch space vehicles and raw materials into either earth orbit or off the moon toward one of the Lagrange points in the moon's orbit. | Source

The First Objectives; Foundation for building a large interstellar space vehicle

We have never been short on ideas about how to get into space and travel to the moon and planets. We have already been to the moon and sent probes to every planet in the solar system except Pluto, but one is on the way. Probes have even been sent to a comet and some asteroids. We now have a ready low earth orbit launch platform by way of the International Space Station (ISS). But what of a mission to the nearest stars? Some tell us that it will take 80,000 years to travel to the Centauri system using conventional technology that is known by most of us. But, As will be revealed in thie series, we have ways now, with off the shelf technology, to cut down on the travel time by at least 99%. Let's look into a proposed program of interstellar travel in various stages consisting of, locating a suitable target destination, establishing permanent colonies in space, the moon, Mars and some asteroids, then building the interstellar ship, how to construct fuel it for the long haul, approaching the new planet and how to go about settling it. The method to achieve this will not so much rely on governments that come and go, but to create the incentive that will cause private interests to venture into new territory. We will also look into terraforming those that are close, but not exactly earthlike.

Of all that can be done to travel to the stars, we first need a suitable destination. Not everything we look at is suitable and the truth is, that most of it is not without considerable work. We are now engaged in a search for suitable earth like planets using the Kepler telescope, which has already brought in an amazing number of discoveries taking out total of know exosolar planets from a few hundred to more than 2,000 in the short span of time it has been in space. Two earth sized planets have been found, but are too hot (1). Another unrelated and detected planets appears to be putting out a light signal and has become the focus of attention by SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) (2). We have found a few near earth size planets that look tantalizing. More research is needed on these plus any new ones that are found over the next year or so. Some astronomers tell us that before 2012 is out, an earth like planet will be located in the correct relationship with it's star to support life. But the over riding problem of travelling to one of these planets is the sheer distance they are and the formidable task to travel that vast gulf of space between us and them. Some of these planets are 600 light years away.Take a look at the two Voyager spacecraft (3) that took off from earth in the 1977 to explore most of the planets. They are just now reaching the edge of the heliomagnetic field and entering into the true interstellar medium. For all intents and purposes, they are still in the region of the Kuiper Belt and Oort Cloud, so in the gravitational sense, they are still within the solar system. This is nearly 40 years later and the nearest star to which they are not headed, is a great deal further than that. There are some who argue that the texts on interstellar distances are all wrong and that the stars are much closer than what they state (4,5). There is a sure fire and tested way to measure these distances accurately and all it takes to prove one or the other right or wrong is to calculate them one's self. All it takes are a few known facts and some trigonometry. Even so, the distances to the stars is vast no matter who you believe. What we then require to get there in time that are far less than tens of thousands of years, are new methods of propulsion or means of getting their, whether by theoretical means which we do not fully understand, or some way we haven't yet even conceived.

No matter how we chose to eventually make our way to suitable far off worlds, we will first need to learn how to build mega projects in space, likely in Lagrange points with resources found in space and not on earth or the moon. We have already managed mega projects like the Large Hadron Collider (6) on earth, so something of this size or greater is not out of the question in space. Simply defined, it is obtaining everything from near earth asteroids (7, 8) and one big asteroid can provide much of our working material, specifically, Eros (9) , which we have already landed a probe on after taking photographs. This can only begin once we establish permanent colonies in space aboard suitable living accommodations, whether in a large asteroid rebuilt to suit the purpose or in some form of massive space station. We already have the International Space Station (10), but it is in the wrong location right now. With not too much expenditure of fuel, it could be relocated in either L4 or L5 positions in the moon's orbit (11). It was designed to be expanded with small sections, one piece at a time and plenty of progress has already been made. Expanding on this idea and designing it to create a substitute for gravity, we could have working colonies in both L4 and L5. People will live there on extended basis and use small vehicles to roam out and capture small asteroids to tow them to the locations for processing in space in a near zero gravity environment. Colonies can also be built on the moon which can also be mined and finished products launched to L4 or L5 by the use of a magnetic launch system powered by the sun (12).

Once these resources are relocated in near earth space in lunar orbit, there are a number of ways they can be smelted and processed. They could be processed on the moon or asteroid first using gravity seperation, or in free space itself using a solar concentrator and a scaled up centrifuge system to seperate various elements by specific gravity. Alternately, they can be processed by scaled up electrolysis to seperate and concentrate the various resources (13). Some of this technology has already been proven and has had a long use on earth. It is merely a matter of duplicating such systems anywhere we want in space. The electrical energy can come from vast fields of solar panels or concentrators (14) located on or near the body being mined or free in space at L4 or L5 positions with a maser (15) linkup to the mine site that has a rectenna (16, 17). With all of this in place, it is just a matter of processing raw resources into whatever we want. These form the first steps in getting an interplanetary or interstellar voyage under way. Next, we will look at building the long range space vehicle in space and how it will be powered.

Refernces

1. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2076711/New-planet-discovered-2011-Nasa-space-telescope-finds-twin-Earth-Kepler-20f.html

2. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1316538/Gliese-581g-mystery-Scientist-spotted-mysterious-pulse-light-direction-newEarth-planet-year.html

3. http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/

4. http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/ask_astro/answers/970415c.html

5. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstellar_travel

6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Large_Hadron_Collider

7. http://chview.nova.org/station/ast-mine.htm

8. http://chview.nova.org/station/ast-mine.htm

9. http://nineplanets.org/eros.html

10. http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/main/index.html

11. http://www-spof.gsfc.nasa.gov/Education/wlagran.html

12. http://www.launchpnt.com/portfolio/aerospace/satellite-launch-ring/

13. http://electrochem.cwru.edu/encycl/art-s01-space-proc.htm

14. http://www.builditsolar.com/Projects/Concentrating/concentrating.htm

15. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maser

16. http://www.nss.org/settlement/ssp/library/1987-NASACR179558-RectennaTechnologyProgram.pdf

17. http://www.coolcadelectronics.com/DARPA_Energy_Harvesting.html

A Manned Mission to the Stars

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Comments 11 comments

PDXBuys profile image

PDXBuys 4 years ago from Oregon

I think this is an exciting goal for the distant future. But it is something for the very distant future. Right now the U.S. no longer has a space shuttle and can't put a man into orbit without the help of the Russians. If we can't get into orbit then we can't get to the moon and we can't get to Mars and we certainly can't get to the stars.


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

There are private space planes under development. One of these are scheduled to launch later this year. I will be doing more research on that and posting here.


PDXBuys profile image

PDXBuys 4 years ago from Oregon

The space planes being developed are designed for short-term low orbit and won't do much else. Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic ship is designed for "space tourism" - a few hours of weightlessness and that's about it. A ship with a completely different design would be required for, say, a manned mission to Mars - something I think we should do next in preparaton for more ambitous missions. But, I don't know how the U.S. can lead this project if we are broke!


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

The US is not broke! The wealth is concentrated into a few hands and much of it has been taken out of the country to places like China. If we say the US is broke, then we have to say the rest of the world is broke. Then there is the question of multi0hundred billion dollar war budgets. Despite being "broke" there is enough money to fund wars, but noting for the space program in the public arena. In the secret military space program where the "high ground" is of great value, there have been advances that make the space shuttle look like a model T jalopy in comparison. The Air force has super secret space vehicles that can easily get into orbit. You would do well to research the US patents on "flying saucer" type inventions which number around 6,500 patents for that art.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Greetings, syzygyastro, this is an interesting topic, to be sure. But let's face it 600 light years ain't exactly across the street. We are no where near this kind of capability. At the current stage of our technology, it would be almost akin to asking Galileo to accomplish a moon landing in the 16th century!

There are theorectical propulsion systems that can take some of those depressing zeros from the transit time to the nearer stars. Ion propulsion, perhaps fusion driven nuclear, etc.

We still have that 'light barrier' that make any serious interstellar efforts not practical. I know better than to say nothing is possible, but I can say that in terms of our current technology (assuming there are no breakthroughs of a stellar magnitude), it will remain improbable well beyond most of our lifetimes.

Great article, Cred2


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

I would tend to agree except on the point that the light barrier will likely fall like the sound barrier did in the 20th century with the advent of the jet. Before that, people thought nothing would ever exceed the speed of sound. We know differently now and military jets routinely fly faster than this and by several times faster. Some people speculate that inter-dimensional travel is the key to interstellar travel. But this is based on string theory and this is so far, just a theory. We might be able in normal restraints, to approach the speed of light but never actually achieve it. Think of it for a moment. At just half light speed, a journey to Alpha Centari would take 8 years. To a stellar system 600 light years off, 1,200 years. Admittedly, with our puny life spans even 8 years is quite a chunk and 1,200 years is out of the question. For the immediate century, robot missions to the stars looks more likely and this has already started. In the mean time, we had better be looking after the earth as it is the only one we have.


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

The science of spaceflight is fascinating.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Hi, syzygyastro, in response to your last comment.

The light barrier is not like the sound barrier. There has never been a question that with sufficient energy the speed of sound can be exceeded. The speed of light is a fundamental compenent of the existence of the universe. If Einstein is correct it would take an infinite amount of energy on the approach to the speed of light, as an object becomes more massive when using greater amounts of energy rather than going beyond this speed limit. Unless there are wormholes or Einstein can be repealed, although he has been pretty much right-on for some time, we are restricted to the back yard, or less, if the Universe could be compared to the rest of the world. I have heard of the possibility of certain atomic particles exceeding this speed as of late, but it is still speculative. There would need to be a breakthrough on the order of "Warp Drive" which conflicts with the physical universe as we understand it. I cannot rule out any possibility, but it is improbable that we can seriously speak about interstellar exploration in any serious way for some time to come. Nice to chat, Cred2


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

Though Einsteins velocity of light stands inviolate so far, Einstein also stated in GR that space itself can expand faster than the speed of light as space is not matter nor electromagnetic radiation like photons that travel at the speed of light. One of the arguments for that postulate is the Doppler effect for receding objects deep in the cosmos. As space "stretches" the electromagnetic radiation also stretches with it. Given a vast enough distance beyond the observable edge of the cosmos, object will be separating from our location in a manner that appears superluminous, but it is the act of accelerating and expanding space that is behind our inability to see beyond a certain point. Therefore, the trick for faster than light speed appears to be wrapped up in space, that structure that allows for relative observation to begin with.

Also, mass can take on a vector quantity that can be broken down into two active parts; a direction and a scale. Mass can be concentrated in one direction and virtually eliminated in another, usually perpendicular, direction. If we can separate the elements of mass and have masslessness in a given direction, then it is conceivable to move something at the velocity of light in the massless direction as it would require very little energy to move a massless object.

In the LHC, we can accelerate heavy particles close to the velocity of light. Heavy particles are accelerated close to light velocity in two opposite directions and brought into collision. Now in GR, the point of view from one particle would see the other as moving close to the velocity of light and visa versa, while outside from a third point of view, we can see that in each frame of reference if we define one or the other as still, the moving one is apparently moving much faster than light velocity. In GR, a third reference is not argued, though it can apply in multiple frames of reference.

The keys to faster than light velocity are space, a conditioned vector mass with zero mass perpendicular to the modulus of mass and a third frame of reference.

Yet another possibility exists in the form of quantum entanglement. Alain Aspect and Gisin proved the efficacy of faster than light communication by using entangled photons. When photons are entangled, whatever happens to one also happens to another no matter how far apart they are in apparent violation of the limits of GR. But quantum entanglement is one of those things not covered in GR and that is one of the holy grails of modern physics; to unify GR with quantum electrodynamics.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Syzgyastro, thanks for the clarification. But how near are we to be able to begin any practical application based on your understanding of how the light barrier can be breached? Do you believe that a practical vehicle based on your understanding of GR can be built, allowing for propulsion systems, etc that can make interstellar travel possible within this century?


syzygyastro profile image

syzygyastro 4 years ago from Vancouver, Canada Author

The methods that most of us are familiar with are incapable of getting us to Alpha Centuri let alone anything else. What I'm suggesting is methods that are outside of what is known. A practical near light speed ship would have to employ the use of powerful lasers, which already exist, or somehow exploit the quantum entangled field. To do the later, we are going to have to get a grasp of some unified field theory that unites GR with quantum electrodynamics. Further, we are going to have to prove it in application, which so far has only been done at the subatomic level. Once we have a thorough grasp of this, then building an interstellar system can proceed from there. As it stands now, this does not exist with current understanding or technology. The propulsion of the future will as far removed form what we know now as the rocket is removed from the stone hatchet of prehistory.

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